Jun 21, 2019

The Budget Control Act of 2011 placed limits on discretionary spending for fiscal years 2012 to 2021. Currently and for most of the years covered by the legislation, separate caps have applied to spending on national defense and non-defense programs. Some discretionary spending, however, is not subject to these caps:

  • Spending designated as an emergency
  • War-related activities (called Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCO)
  • Disaster relief
  • Certain program integrity activities
  • Wildfire suppression (starting in fiscal year 2020 as the result of a recent amendment to the original legislation).

Another element of the Budget Control Act was the establishment of a joint select committee — comprised of members of the House and Senate from both parties — that was charged with coming up with additional deficit reduction by the end of 2011. The committee was unable to come to agreement, though, which triggered a reduction in the caps originally set by the Act. However, subsequent legislation raised the caps for 2014 through 2019. If no further legislation is enacted, the caps for 2020 and 2021 will be substantially below the appropriations provided for 2019.


Congressional Budget Office (CBO)

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